Eye Appeal

Storms and other weather events can wreak havoc with a retailer’s outdoor signage. Just ask Therese Grossman, construction manager for Edwin Watts Golf Shops, Fort Walton, Fla., which operates 83 golf specialty shops. This past spring, a bad storm with extreme wind velocities came through Baton Rouge, La., blowing the faces off the signs outside Edwin Watts’ store there. 


“In the retail world, having your exterior signs down is a crisis,” Grossman said. “I have to be able to respond and get them back up very quickly.”


She was able to do just that with the help of the chain’s signage supplier, Harbinger Sign. The national sign engineering and manufacturing company is based in Jacksonville, Fla.


“Harbinger was able to repair and put them back up very quickly, saving us several thousand dollars,” Grossman said. “The downtime was very minimal.” 


Harbinger provides Edwin Watts with a “one-touch” program for its exterior signage. Once the retailer initiates a project, the supplier manages the surveys, permitting, fabrication, installation and servicing of the signs. 


“They handle all permitting issues, which is an extremely big deal,” Grossman said. 


Edwin Watts is not the easiest of clients, according to Grossman, due to the fact that it often works within incredibly short deadlines.


“If a real estate opportunity comes up and we see the potential to do a new store, we go for it,” she explained, “and things may transpire very, very quickly from there. It’s great for us with regard to our growth, but it’s also stressful in that it makes everyone work on a very short time line. The signage company we used previously was not good at it.”


By contrast, Harbinger has been able to accommodate Edwin Watts’ fast track. 


“They don’t get bogged down with permit issues or the short time frames,” Grossman said. “They get as excited as we do when we are opening a new location.” 


For color consistency in the green and white logo and lettering, Harbinger converted Edwin Watts signs from paint to translucent vinyl films, all applied first surface for both cabinet and channel letter signs. New signs use LEDs, which provide more reliable and consistent illumination and help reduce sign operating costs. 


Along with the logo and letters on the exterior of the stores, Harbinger provides Edwin Watts with large-format digital window prints. The prints are created with a 3M medium-adhesive product that allows them to be removed and changed out without leaving any adhesive residue on the windows. 


“The prints — we call them window clings — were Harbinger’s idea,” Grossman said. “They’re beautiful and very impactful for our customers.” 


Grossman explained that Harbinger came up with the idea of the window prints. 


“It proved an economical way for us to try something new while meeting budget,” she said. “One of the benefits for a very specialized retailer like us in working with Harbinger is that they have a very broad base of experience and of doing different things that they are able to share with us. They bring a lot of great ideas to the table.”


In 2010, Edwin Watts entered into an agreement with Sears Holdings to open in-store shops in 12 Sears stores. Ranging from 2,700 sq. ft. to 3,000 sq. ft. in size, the shops offer the familiar layout and shopping experience as the company’s freestanding locations. All of the exterior signage is being provided by Harbinger, which is also helping out on some of the interior signing. In conjunction with the in-store Sears shops, the supplier created an interior digital print that can be applied to both treated and untreated drywall substrates. The print can be removed without leaving any adhesive residue.


“It’s (Sears) been a big project, and the implementation of the signage has been challenging,” Grossman said. “Sears is a huge company with layers of approval, and then there is the standard permitting to deal with. But Harbinger has been very supportive and there for us every step of the way.”


mwilson@chainstoreage.com